Mobilization of giant piggyBac transposons in the mouse genome

Nucleic Acids Res. 2011 Dec;39(22):e148. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkr764. Epub 2011 Sep 24.


The development of technologies that allow the stable delivery of large genomic DNA fragments in mammalian systems is important for genetic studies as well as for applications in gene therapy. DNA transposons have emerged as flexible and efficient molecular vehicles to mediate stable cargo transfer. However, the ability to carry DNA fragments >10 kb is limited in most DNA transposons. Here, we show that the DNA transposon piggyBac can mobilize 100-kb DNA fragments in mouse embryonic stem (ES) cells, making it the only known transposon with such a large cargo capacity. The integrity of the cargo is maintained during transposition, the copy number can be controlled and the inserted giant transposons express the genomic cargo. Furthermore, these 100-kb transposons can also be excised from the genome without leaving a footprint. The development of piggyBac as a large cargo vector will facilitate a wider range of genetic and genomic applications.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • DNA Transposable Elements*
  • Embryonic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Genetic Loci
  • Genetic Vectors*
  • Genome*
  • Humans
  • Hydrolases / genetics
  • Mice


  • DNA Transposable Elements
  • Hydrolases
  • fumarylacetoacetase